Fragile Balance

Three standard box sizes and some examples of glass negatives with their four-flap enclosures open.

We came across an article in AuthentiCity, The City of Vancouver Archives Blog, describing a recent project completed by archive’s volunteers. The project consisted of cataloging and creating archivally safe housing for a large (over 8000!) collection of glass negative in various sizes. Not an easy task!

First, each negative was placed in a convenient 4-flap acid-free paper envelope, which was marked on the spine for easy browsing. Next step was re-housing the negatives in archival boxes which came in standard sizes, but some needed to be modified (by adding foam to the bottom and/or by adding corrugated board dividers) to accommodate size variations. The light-weight sturdy corrugated dividers within the box assure snug fit and immobility of the negatives which now uniformly stand on their side and also add air circulation around small groupings of negatives. Each box was also labeled on the front, so it can be easily spotted and identified while standing on the shelf among others.

Glass negatives stored neatly in their special modified box. Photo by Cindy McLellan.
Glass negatives stored neatly in their special modified box. Photo by Cindy McLellan.

This seemingly complex but necessary storage process provides maximum protection from the elements:
• paper envelopes protect from dust and fingerprints during handling
• board and foam provide cushioning and air circulation
• archival grade specialty boxes shield from dirt, dust, light and moisture while holding negatives upright and supported on all sides

Cudos to Vancouver Archives and their dedicated volunteers for tackling such large but important project and preserving fragile treasures, such as these Glass Negatives so they would continue providing priceless historical information to future generations!

Stereographs and the Stereogranimator

stereo card viewerA current and popular trend in film-making is shooting films in eye-popping 3-D format. Throughout history, 3-D technology has evolved from the simple red-blue anaglyphs of the mid-20th century, to big-budget effects that are displayed on the cinema screens today. But the fascination with 3-D and special effects is certainly not a new phenomenon, and a new project from the New York Public Library has rekindled interest in stereographs, a precursor to 3-D, with their Stereogranimator. This new page puts the NYPL’s large collection of over 40,000 stereographs at your fingertips where they can be instantly converted, viewed and shared as either animated GIFs, or 3-D anaglyphs. This initiative was loosely based on the works of artist Joshua Heineman on his site, Cursive Buildings, that he created in 2008.

stereo card archival storage boxStereographs were a popular form of entertainment over a nine-decade period spanning from the 1850’s to the 1930’s. Queen Victoria praised stereographs and consequently popularized them after they were displayed at London’s famed Great Exhibition in 1851. Oliver Wendell popularized this medium in America with his invention of the hand-held stereoscope and promotion of stereograph libraries. The first of these types of images were printed on copper (daguerreotypes) or glass (ambrotypes). It wasn’t until the printing of stereographs on card stock that their popularity truly skyrocketed. Eventually, companies like the London Stereoscopic Company started to establish and sell millions of stereoscopes and stereographs in the mid-1800’s.

four flap stereo negative storage envelopeThese images gave viewers a glimpse of a very early variation of 3-D possibilities that we see in movies today. While peering through a stereoscope at two seemingly identical photos, the viewer’s brain tricked them into thinking that they were looking at one three-dimensional image. However, unlike the animated GIFs made through the Stereogranimator, original stereographs were motionless.

Do you own or care for a special collection of stereo cards? University Products offers products to both view your images and keep them archivally safe. Our stereo card viewer is an economical option for viewing your prized stereo cards. We also provide enclosures for your stereo cards and stereo card negatives as well as stereo storage boxes to house both.

Archival Photo Storage: Choosing The Best Enclosure

Your valuable photo collection is vulnerable to dangerous threats including environmental contaminants, water, fingerprint oils and PVC plastics. archival quality photo storage box drop front blackWe have products and solutions to protect and preserve your photos for many years to come. University Products offers a wide variety of archival photo products that will help you with your photo restoration and preservation projects.

Included in these products is our line of custom archival boxes that have passed the Image Permanence Institute’s Photo Activity Test. The Photo Activity Test (PAT) evaluates photo-storage and display materials and how they interact with photographic materials. This test can determine the archival quality of materials including, but not limited to, paper, boards, and plastics. The components of such materials are also tested. These may include inks, tapes, paints, and labels.

 

archival quality photographic plastic enclosure sleeveOver 8,000 samples have undergone the PAT test in more than the two decades of the test. This test is administered by stacking materials in contact with image interaction and stain detectors. These stacks are then placed in a humidity and temperature-controlled chamber to simulate aging. This climate-altered chamber stays at a temperature of 70 degrees centigrade and 80% relative humidity. The incubation process of each sample takes place over the course of a 15-day period. Test results are sent to clients and manufacturers within 4-6 weeks after the test is administered.

archival quality photo negative slide storage pagesIn addition to our line of custom archival boxes, University Products offers photo pages and sleeves that have passed the PAT. Per the recommendation of the National Archives, polyester, polyethylene, and polypropylene enclosures provide the most stable and non-damaging storage environment for archiving your photos. Unlike PVC plastics, these materials are inert and do not stick to your photographs.

photo tex archival quality interleaving tissueAt one time, it was believed that photographs stored in buffered enclosures might be adversely affected by buffering. This is no longer believed to be true except for a couple of specific types of photographs. With dye transfer prints and cyanotypes, unbuffered enclosures should be used. The image of both print types can be harmed by alkalinity. University Products’ new Photo-Tex tissue was mentioned on our blog earlier this year as a suitable solution for interleaving between photographs when buffering is not desired.